Lin NieFollow

Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Experimental Psychology, Haptic Perception, Dance, Interpersonal Coordination, Improvisation

Major Advisor

Claudia Carello

Associate Advisor

Adam Sheya

Associate Advisor

Bruce Kay

Associate Advisor

Tehran Davis

Field of Study



Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Open Access


Interpersonal coordination is sustained by meaningful informational coupling, whether optic, acoustic, haptic or some combination. Such information is specific to the guidance of perception-action in a given activity unfolding at the animal-environment scale. The social dance of Argentine Tango provides a rich interpersonal coordination setting to study such informational coupling with an emphasis, in particular, on haptic coupling. In three experiments, the classic Fitts task was modified to allow a continuous (not discrete) monitoring of error and a treatment of Index of Difficulty as an obtained (rather than imposed) value. Three coordination challenges inspired by tango were investigated: direction of movement, type of perceptual support, and improvisation-like demands arising from unpredictable targets. As expected, dyads were influenced by the direction of movement but solo actors were not (Experiment 1 vs. Experiment 2). Dyadic coupling that involved haptics (with or without vision) provided a better fit to Fitts’s law than coupling that was exclusively visual (Experiment 2). Varying target location and limiting the preview of it still preserves Fitts’s law (Experiment 3). While solo actors were affected by whether they had a zero or one cycle preview of the target, dyads were not. Results were discussed with respect to the contrast between Claude Shannon’s construal of information—limited, syntactic, and inherently meaningless—and James J. Gibson’s construal of information—lawful, meaningful, and specific to organism-environment circumstances relevant to perception-action. Implications for the intersection of dance (particularly ensemble improvisation dance), human-computer interaction, and experimental psychology were also considered.